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East Side Blues
January 25, 2008 - Joe Gorman
When I started this blog, I wanted to make it a point to be honest and to balance out the content, to not make it so much gloom and doom, because people around here do tend to think negatively and adding to it when it is not necessary will make me just like those naysayers.
That being said, it is hard to be positive after the senseless fire Wednesday morning that killed six people, four of them children. That has been my almost exclusive assignment since Wednesday. As when anything major crime happens, it is usually the buzz at the police station, where I go every day while making my rounds.
But as I have written before, the gallows type humor a lot of police officers have has been missing this week. The mood is not somber, but more businesslike.
The mood was even different at the press conference in City Council Chambers Wednesday, where the top brass of the administration along with the police and fire departments gathered to answer questions from media not just locally, but from the Cleveland and Pittsburgh region as well.
I have been around media from big markets before and the attitude is usually that of a feeding frenzy. Last year, outside the house on the South Side where four people were murdered, a Post Gazette reporter and a reporter from Channel 8 in Cleveland almost came to blows because one accused the other of interuppting him during an impromptu press briefing outside the home with detectives. When Donna Moonda was arraigned in federal court downtown on charges she murdered her husband, an out of town camerman was almost run down on Market Street while chasing the car that her attorney was leaving the courthouse in.
But that was not the case Wednesday (although the reporter from Channel 3 in Cleveland told me he was the anchor at Channel 27 before Tom Holden. I couldn't comprehend such a thing; that there was someone before Tom Holden). But instead of the usual swapping of war stories that happens with the big guns when they get together, there was instead a quiet tone as reporters compared notes and rumors from the crime scene.
That being said, the conference was dominated by out of town reporters, especially the woman from KDKA, and when it abruptly ended, the hue and cry was great, mostly from the out of town, who felt gyped that their questions were not being answered.
That being said, the press conference was a mistake because no new information was given. I gather the attitude among the suits was the best way to answer everyone's questions at one time was to get them all together in one room, but when they didn't like the questions, they ended it.
It is now two days later and this is still one of the main topics of conversation wherever I go. I know the firefighters who worked that blaze returned to duty today. One of the images I saw on TV was a firefighter who just got sworn in over the summer who is a third generation firefighter; his father, at the time, was scheduled to work the same turn as him.
I don't know if that's true now, but when I saw him kneeling in a yard on TV, I wondered if his dad was working that turn, and if so, did one of them seek the other out? Maybe the father needed to look for his for solace and the son wanted to find his Dad to talk about stuff he maybe didn't understand.
I may be making too big a deal about that, but that was one of the images I carried away from this, that and a comment from a friend of the grandmother who said in a story I ran today that the two feuding factions of the families just could not walk away and leave well enough alone.
To these people, being disrespected is a fate worse than death. They will do anything to avenge it, at any time, and they do not think long term, like who might get hurt or what will happen if something goes awry.
From looking at the suspect in court yesterday, it is clear that he has no clue what the heck is going on. After the arraignment, I heard a loud commotion on the corner and turned and some woman was swearing at a man and punching him repeatedly, despite his protestations. People continued walking, hunched against the cold and parted ways to ignore them. Don't know what it really means, but that will be something I always remember as well whenever I think about this mess.
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